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April 07, 2008

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta


When my friend Sharon asked, "Do you want to go to a cooking class at the Hartstone Inn?" I said of course I do.

Chef Michael Salmon was teaching a class on pasta, pasta and more pasta. Just what we had in mind for a Sunday workout. Kneading semolina pasta dough for about 20 minutes will really build your arm muscles. Michael had an advanced plan for us, as he was prepared to make beet pasta, spinach pasta and egg pasta. We learned the techniques for rolling out the dough by hand and machine, then cut out shapes for tortellini, linguine, pappardelle, ravioli and striped bow-ties.

In three hours we made enough pasta for 12 people to have four entrees, plus more for freezing. And, the pasta machine was fun. I am absolutely hooked. My wish list of kitchen tools now has a new item at the very top.

Can you imagine mixing fresh herbs and pureed garden vegetables into pasta or fillings for ravioli and tortellini? At the end of the summer, I usually spend a whole day making pesto for the freezer. I can just picture an assortment of fresh pastas ready for making soups, comfort dinners and a slow simmered bolognese.

As we wrapped up our work in the kitchen, Michael turned the shapes and strands of pasta into Spaghetti with a Creamy Prosciutto and Roasted Pepper Sauce, Pappardelle with Pesto, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Grilled Tiger Shrimp, Sweet Potato Ravioli with a Pine Nut and Sage Butter Sauce and Three-Cheese Tortellini with Chicken and Pesto. We were all hungry and the room grew silent as everyone filled a plate with the Hartstone's handmade pastas.

Img_1773The Hartstone Inn is in walking distance of Camden's downtown shops and the harbor. Chef Michael Salmon and his wife Mary Jo have turned the inn into an elegant retreat and culinary destination. (I met someone in the class who was vacationing from Boston's North Shore.) Michael opens the inn's kitchen for one-on-one cooking classes like Pasta, Pasta, Pasta. If you can't make it to a class in Camden and still want to learn about pasta making, the recipes and step-by-step pictures are in his book Hartstone Inn Cookbook. Better yet, reserve a table for dinner and let Michael cook for you.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about a Maine chocolatier that I met at Michael's cooking class, Kate. All Kate's chocolates are made by hand using local cream infused with organic herbs, flowers and fruit. Kate was sweet enough to bring some chocolates along and I ate them all in one sitting. We will definitely be carrying her Black Dinah Chocolates at the market. Actually, I'd really like to take a field trip to Isle a Haut, and eat at her shop and cafe. I'm sure it is an island of chocolate heaven.



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Another useful kitchen tool for homes would be really helpful especially when it is useful in making your favorites.

Taking a cooking class would be fun!

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